Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is one of the cities you can never get enough of. Whether you prefer the impressive architecture of the Sagrada Familia, the spacious alleys and picturesque views of Park Guell or you are a lover of the sea world – you can not be disappointed.
As soon as you get off the plane or train, you have dozens of options. Out of love for history or just to enjoy the ancient beauty of the buildings, a must-stop is the Gothic Quarter. Some of the monuments there date back to the 14th century, and the narrow streets will take you away from the hectic city pace. During your walk, you can relax in one of the open-air cafes overlooking the medieval buildings. Spacious courtyards with picturesque fountains are revealed here and there.
1. Basílica de la Sagrada Família
One of the most famous and visited by tourists is the Sagrada Familia. The architect of the building is the famous Antonio Gaudi.
After Gaudi’s death, from 1926 several other architects worked on the completion of the construction. In 2010, the main part was completed and consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI, although repairs and upgrades are still underway. The basilica is constantly being renovated and is expected to be completed in 2026.
Not only the exterior is impressive. The spacious halls are filled with high columns and picturesque ceilings, and the light from the tall windows creates a feeling of even more space. An interesting fact is that when completed, the Sagrada Familia will be the tallest religious building in the world and will be built of 18 towers. Even in its current appearance, the basilica attracts millions of visitors who witness the creation of history.
Today the basilica is among the sites protected by UNESCO. The tourists are initially captivated by the exterior, describing the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Going inside you will be even more delighted.
2. Parc Güell: Gaudí’s Surrealist Park
Speaking of Antonio Gaudi, we must also mention the “jewel of Barcelona”, his creation – the park “Guell”. Inspiring, impressive, colorful, even unreal is the architecture of the park, filled with figures of colorful lizards and dragons, houses like the ones from the tale of Hansel and Gretel, giant supporting columns surrounded by calm greenery.
The walk in the park is tiring, but it is a challenge worth it. Most of the figures are covered with colored tiles, there are a number of terraces and playgrounds from which you can enjoy the city of Barcelona. In general, the buildings are inspired by ancient Greek architecture, in which Gaudi was interested.
Don’t forget to enter the house where Gaudi himself lived, where furniture designed by him is exhibited. The park itself is designed as an area for residential buildings but remains unrealized.
3. Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music)
The Palau de la Música Catalana was built as a concert hall in the early 20th century. Today the building is under the auspices of UNESCO. The facade is extremely impressive with its sculptures, ornaments, and mosaics.
As one of the top attractions in Barcelona, it has a souvenir shop, a café and an outdoor terrace where you can have a nice lunch with amazing views. Inside, you will enjoy works of art in every corner, and the ceiling, by Antoni Rigalt, represents a huge skylight.
The audience seats 2,200 spectators, and during the day the lighting comes entirely from daylight.
4. Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)
The Gothic Quarter is among the most famous Barcelona attractions. For over 2000 years it has been the spiritual center of the city. Here you will find preserved buildings with Roman architecture, as well as well-preserved medieval buildings.
One of the most impressive points in the Gothic Quarter is the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, created in the Romanesque era. The facade, decorated with all sorts of curves, supports, and towers is a typical example of architecture during the Middle Ages.
The walk-in ancient Barcelona can continue with a visit to the Gothic churches, the spacious squares, and a stop at the Picasso Museum. You can spend a whole day, and why not more, to get to know every little corner of the neighborhood, where time seems to flow differently.
Every cobbled street and every alley of the Gothic Quarter has its own history. Mandatory stops are the Picasso Museum, the Museu d’Història de Barcelona (Museum of the History of Barcelona), and the Plaça del Rei.
5. Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
We continue the list of Gaudi’s creations. Casa Milà is known as “La Pedrera” or “The Stone Quarry” because of its appearance. Each part of the building is a perfectly formed sculpture with a metal balcony and huge glass windows.
A massive metal door of the Carrer de Provença will take you to the courtyard and towering arches supporting the entire structure. It also houses the Fundació Catalunya, where a number of cultural events and concerts take place.
There are many boutiques and first-class restaurants in the immediate vicinity.
6. La Rambla: Barcelona’s Social Hub
La Rambla divides the old town into two parts, stretching from Plaça de Catalunya all the way to the port. The street is among the main Barcelona sightseeings.
Here you will find many shops, cafes, markets nearby (one of the famous is Mercat de la Boqueria), street actors presenting mime shows or musical interpretations. La Rambla borders the Gothic Quarter, and at the very beginning is the mansion designed by Antonio Gaudi – UNESCO-listed Palau Güell.
7. Casa Batlló
This modernist building, a creation of the great Gaudi and re-listed by UNESCO, was created as the residence of Josep Batlló i Casanovas.
Every shape in the exterior of this amazing building and well thought out to remind it of a fairytale castle. On the façade there are ceramic tiles in different colors, the window frames resemble cave entrances, and the wave-shaped roof has several surreal chimneys.
If you want to enjoy a nice lunch during your walk, Moments Restaurant, which has two Michelin stars, is nearby.
8. The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
One of the top attractions in Barcelona – The Magic Fountain was created especially for the 1929 International Exhibition and today attracts thousands of tourists to enjoy its majestic beauty during their evening walks.
A light and music show is held here every week from Thursday to Sunday. It lasts several hours and the musical layout changes every half hour.
9. Camp Nou
The home of FC Barcelona is one of the main buildings for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and a must-stop for all football fans.
It is the largest stadium in Europe and the second-largest in the world with over 99,000 seats. You can tour Camp Nou with a guide (tours are available in English and Spanish) by visiting the pitch, locker rooms, commentary boxes, players’ tunnel.
The stadium also has the Barça Museum, which houses significant trophies, photos, and multimedia performances of some of the most significant moments in the history of FC Barcelona.
10. La Barceloneta
In the La Barceloneta district, you will find many seafood restaurants, surfing, and sunbathing opportunities. A long beach surrounded by palm trees connected the marina with the beach.
This is one of the favorite places for socializing locals and tourists, which also offers a beautiful sea view, ideal for a quiet afternoon.
11. Mercat de la Boqueria
Your visit here will be a real delight for the senses. All kinds of colorful fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, chocolate, and typical Spanish burritos and spices.
The market has existed since 1836 and today is among Barcelona’s favorite sightseeings. Often during the day, the market is quite crowded because of the locals who shop for their meals or with tourists who came to enjoy the old market or to eat a delicious burrito in a nearby bar.
12. Quadrat d’or
This modern area is surrounded by attractions such as Plaça de Catalunya, the Avinguda de la Diagonal, the Passeig de Sant Joan, and Carrer de Muntaner.
The surrounding buildings bear Gaudi’s typical handwriting, although the neighborhood as a whole is enriched by the works of other great architects. The Quadrat d’Or also offers an open-air museum, which will present various ceramics, mosaics, statues, and decorative reliefs.
13. Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes
The Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes is a typical example of Gothic architecture prevailing in Catalonia. It is located in Sant Pere Màrtir hillside and was originally discovered by Queen Elisenda de Montcada in 1326.
The largest of the two buildings here was built in the 14th century and is called the Catalan Gothic church. Not far away is the smaller Saint Michael’s Chapel. Both buildings have been renovated to retain their original appearance. This favorite tourist attraction has a rich collection of paintings representing the development of religion from the 14th to the 20th century.
Today the monastery functions as a museum open all year round to tourists.
14. Scenic Views and Art Museums in Montjuïc
The name of this landmark in translation is “Mountain of the Jews.” And this is no accident. Rising 213 meters above sea level, Montjuïc is surrounded by steep slopes, and at its top stretches an impressive fortress surrounded by a park.
In addition to the beautiful views around, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia) has a particularly rich collection of Catalan art from the 10th to the 20th century presented in paintings, sculptors, and photographs.
Not far away is another landmark – Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) created especially for the 1929 World Exhibition.
15. Aquarium Barcelona
The Barcelona Aquarium is located on Port Vel. It is home to over 11,000 representatives of the aquatic world, located in 35 facilities. Walking in the tunnels of the aquarium, surrounded by sharks, rays and other sea giants is among the most exciting things to do in Barcelona.
Barcelona is a city with an extremely rich history and perhaps one of the most impressive modernist and surrealist architectures in the world. It is impossible to visit Barcelona without getting acquainted with at least some of the works of Antonio Gaudi and without enjoying one of the amazing views around.
For sure, curiosity is what will bring you here, but it is impossible to get enough of Barcelona in just a day or two.